The federal sports minister has poured cold water on the prospect of the Commonwealth chipping in to fund the proposed new stadium in Hobart, labelling it “a lot to ask”.
- Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells says she does not believe a Tasmanian AFL team should be contingent on a $750 million stadium
- The Tasmanian government will contribute about half the cost, the AFL has committed $15 million with the rest needed from the federal government
- The Tasmanian government is confident the Commonwealth will back the project once it has delivered the business case
Speaking on SEN’s coverage of the test cricket on Saturday, Sports Minister Anika Wells was asked how she felt about a Tasmanian team in the AFL.
“We want one, we want one … and Tassie wants one, and they deserve one,” she said.
“But we don’t think it needs to be conditional on a stadium to get there, no-one else had to do that.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has indicated the granting of a 19th team licence to Tasmania was contingent on building a new purpose-built stadium in Hobart.
The current plan to construct a 23,000 seat, roofed stadium at Macquarie Point is estimated to cost around $750 million.
In reaching an in-principle agreement with the AFL, the Tasmanian government said it was willing to contribute around half the cost of the project, while the AFL has committed $15 million.
Both the state government and the AFL were hopeful the Commonwealth would assist with much of the rest, but Ms Wells was unimpressed with the idea.
“375 million bucks for a stadium is a lot to ask,” she told the broadcast.
It leaves the state government in a difficult position of trying to prove to the AFL the building of a stadium is realistic, so that the sporting body will press ahead with putting the proposal to bring Tasmania into the league to a vote of current club presidents.
Tasmania’s Sports Minister Nic Street said the comments from his federal counterpart “are what they are”, but that he still remained confident the project would get across the line.
“I haven’t had any conversations with the federal government personally,” Mr Street said.
“The premier is the one who will meet with the prime minister to put forward the business case.
“Once he does that, I’m confident the federal government will see this proposal isn’t about AFL Football, this is about an entire precinct for Mac Point and what it can do for Tasmania.”
Mr Street said he did not know when the business case would be put to the government, but believed it would be presented soon.
President of the Collingwood Football club Jeff Browne would not be drawn on the minister’s comments.
“That’s her view, the AFL are on record as saying that the stadium is a component of the deal so that’s their position,” he said.
“We’ve had some meetings with the club presidents, we’re due to take some more detail as the negotiations continue and we’ll be updated at a point in time but there’s no specific date for a vote.”
The AFL has been contacted for comment.